Proteas overhaul needed

2010-05-12 00:00

IT HAS been a long time since I’ve seen a Proteas side so out of sorts.

In a word, South Africa’s display in their Super Eight match against Pakistan on Monday was pathetic.

What’s more concerning than their woeful performance in the International Cricket Council’s World Twenty 20 Cup is the attitude and body language of a team who did not look like winners from ball one.

Gone were the usual team celebrations and the excitement at the fall of a wicket.

In its place was a team who were clearly not enjoying proceedings and appeared to be simply going through the motions.

The South African batsmen appeared uncharacteristically nervous and tentative and it was evident that the pressure was getting to them.

It did not take long for panic to set in and for them to abandon the freedom that we are so accustomed to seeing them play with.

It looked like each of Graham Smith’s men were relying on one of their team-mates to shoulder the responsibility, and the result was that nobody put their hand up.

South Africa are a team known for their fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude, but there was no trace of that at St Lucia on Monday.

When the team needed to pull together under a bit of pressure, the usual camaraderie deserted them.

The catches taken by A.B. De Villiers and Herschelle Gibbs illustrated this perfectly.

There was no high-fiving, no group hugs or whoops of joy after these two great catches.

Instead, both fielders simply threw the ball back to the bowler and went back to their fielding positions.

Smith has expressed a need for new faces and renewed energy in the team. With this admission, the reason for Rusty Theron sitting on the bench for the entire tournament is even more perplexing.

It’s a long way to travel to the West Indies only to be a spectator from the dugout.

Theron must have been chomping at the bit while watching his team’s woeful performance, and he must have felt incredibly frustrated not being able to do anything about it.

It’s tough for South African fans to support a team who, on the face of it, are not playing as if they really want to win.

Based on the Proteas’ performance in this tournament, it’s understandable that supporters across the country are justified in questioning their team’s lack of passion and level of commitment.

It’s not just the South African fans who are losing patience with the Proteas.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) boss Gerald Majola is, in his words, “waiting for an explanation from the team and the management”.

Smith has stated the obvious by saying that the Proteas were “simply not good enough”.

And just what is CSA going to do about it?

Injecting new blood into the side is, in my opinion, the only option.

Wholesale changes will have to be made even if it is at the expense of Protea stalwarts.

Now that at least seven trophies have eluded the Proteas, urgent steps need to be taken.

CSA will have to take some brave action if it hopes to get one-day cricket in this country back on track.

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